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Street Fight: A Film by Marshall Curry

4.7 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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(Sep 29, 2009)
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Editorial Reviews

a film by Marshall Curry, theatrical date is 2005

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Cory Booker, Sharpe James, Pablo Fonseca
  • Directors: Marshall Curry
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Full Screen, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Magnolia Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: September 29, 2009
  • Run Time: 81 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #104,284 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By B. Merritt VINE VOICE on October 29, 2006
Most politically charged films focus on corruption at the higher levels of state, but STREET FIGHT gives us a curb-side view of something much smaller ...and much more important.

The 2002 Newark, New Jersey Mayoral race is something most voters in the U.S. could care less about. Why should someone in, say, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania pay attention to Newark's voting issues? Or someone in Fort Worth, Texas? Or San Francisco, California? Realistically, none of them would. But Newark is New Jersey's most populated city, and those in San Francisco and beyond might want to take a peak at what's happening to our democracy on a pseudo-microcosmic level.

The film's primary focus is on Cory Booker, a Newark city councilman with his eye on the mayor's office. He's a Stanford and Yale graduate who lives in a slum within Newark. He's an idealist who's grown tired of his city's poor schools, poorer neighborhoods, and rising jobless rate. To get into the mayor's office, though, he'll have to unseat four-time incumbent Sharpe James, a man who's firmly entrenched within Newark's politics.

We watch as writer/director/photographer Marshall Curry seeks to interview both sides of the race, first by checking in on Cory Booker's campaign, then by trying (in vain) to meet up with Sharpe James and his people. But once James' campaign personnel learn that Curry interviewed Booker already, he is immediately shunned and pushed aside (often in a very rough manner). Curry's camera is pushed around time and again, his microphone broken, and he's denied access to Sharpe James entirely. Even when Curry catches up with James at a public event, he's manhandled by Sharpe James' `brute squad.
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Q: Why should anyone west of the Delaware River care about the Newark, NJ mayoral race of 2002? A: For me, this was an edge-of-the-seat suspenser that wouldn't let go long enough to let me take a phone call. If you don't know how it ends, see it for the cliffhanging story it tells. For anyone else, this compact little documentary should be seen for its relentless journalistic energy. As American politics becomes more and more dominated by fear tactics, the corporate-owned news organizations have abdicated their duties as the Fourth Estate of our republic, leaving independents like Marshall Curry to take up the mantle. STREET FIGHT compares favorably with the classic MEDIUM COOL, and entertains like a latter-day version of THE CANDIDATE.

We see Sharpe James, a six-term incumbent, try every dirty trick in the book to hold on to his office: he threatens business closures for those who put rival Cory Booker's sign in their windows; he smears the Booker campaign with bogus sex scandals; he even uses the fact that out of the two African American candidates, Booker is less "real" for having lighter skin than his. Both sides wrangle for endorsements, meet with community groups, and chase every dollar not nailed down. The kind of back room manipulations used by James would seem highly improbable in a fictional film. Although it may take place in a different city, this documentary is the perfect companion piece to Season Three of THE WIRE. The similarities between the two political environments is uncanny.

Booker himself, 32 years old at the time of the race, is all forward momentum. Barak Obama is clearly not the only young politician who threatens to breathe some life into our dying democracy. On the eve of the election, a child who has just touched Booker tells Curry, off camera, to smell her hands. "Why, does he have a smell?" "Yes," says the girl. "He smells like the future."
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This film had me glued to my TV set for it's full 90 minutes. Though I don't live that far from New Jersey, I was unaware of the political campaigns for the position of Mayor in Newark, NJ. At first I noted that this was about a campaign four years ago and thought it was an old film. But it's not. It goes right up through 2006.

One of the marks of a great documentary film is that you feel you are really there. This was shot on video and makes it even more realistic (well, it IS real). I find it hard to believe that this Director Marshall Curry's first full-length feature. It's that gripping. And the lead "characters" of Cory Booker and Mayor Sharpe have such distinct personalities that, as the film progresses, you can't help but take sides.

The film was shown on PBS's show P.O.V. but that is usually aired at very oddball, times - and rarely repeated. And the 20-minute interview with Director Curry helps flesh out some of the details and explains why he became the film's narrator.

The best way to watch this film is to know as little as possible about the story before watching it. Let it reveal itself. Then watch the Curry interview.

This is one of the best documentary films I've seen in at least the last six months (and I'm a documentary "addict"). No wonder it was nominated for a 2006 Academy Award!

Steve Ramm "Anything Phonographic"
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One would think that a documentary about the 2002 mayoral race in Newark, New Jersey could have no relevance for anyone beyond history buffs in these final months of 2008. As a native New Yorker, I thought it had little relevance when I first heard about it being filmed in 2005, and continued to ignore it when it was nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary a year later. I was wrong then, and remained wrong up until moments ago, where I watched it via Netflix. Schopenhauer, the patron saint of Nietzsche, once said that there are three stages of an emerging truth. First, it is ignored. Second, it is violently opposed. And third, it is accepted as self-evident. If my willful ignorance of STREET FIGHT can be considered the symbolic first step regarding the emerging cultural truth it represents, and the first 100 days of President-elect Barack Hussein Obama can be considered the oncoming self-evident third, the story of Cory Booker--the local Obama before the national Obama came to be--as rendered in this magnificent documentary can be seen as the middle, violently opposed second step bridge to today's political epoch. Also, it may be seen as the clearest window to the change America needs--on all levels of government.

Cory Booker was an African-American child of highly educated, Civil Rights veterans, both of whom singlehandedly integrated the suburban town in New Jersey in which he was born and raised. He was raised, in that context, with a powerful sense of both pride and duty--of and to his people, his family, his mind, and his own destiny--all of which demanded he make good on the promise of his greatness.
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